Actually, Pulp is the one of his novels I haven't gotten around to reading. It seemed from reading the blurb and all out of his character.
Though, what you said about him wanting to write reminds me of a poem he did called So You Think You're A Writer (I think it's called). I think when he was going it would have been easy enough... But you can't say it was automatic. Personally, I think if he'd had more time he would have written more novels.
Pulp is a great novel. It has Buk's humour written all over it; quick witty one liners, plenty of balls, etc. I laughed right through, even when he got bored and brought it all to a sudden end.. It's all one big joke! And I can imagine him at his desk writing it, smoking, drinking, thinking, 'yeah, fuck it, I'll put that in...'
Finally got hold of a Region two copy of barfly and it's not writer protect...but it cost me, so no, you go find your own. It's taken me years to seek the bastard out!
Ham on Rye is my favourite book of Bukowski's. I definitely agree with allnitewatchman that with most of his books you can't tell what is exaggeration and boasting. With Ham on Rye though there seems to be just the honest-to-God warp of time on memory. Also, I have always been interested in an author's formative years.
Also, about barfly, I work in a video store that had a copy and I took it pretty quickly. That, and Factotum.
It's a hard decision which is the best one, they're all good in different ways. I'd have to say Hollywood is my favorite, both gritty and decadent, with a coherent plot unlike his other novels. Followed closely by ham on rye, then the post office, because it's so raw, then factotum, women, and pulp.
Ahh, an old thread. I think that several other threads about best volumes of poetry are already out there, but as I can't be buggered to find them, I'll say it here:
1974 Burning in Water Drowning in Flame is excellent. It collects much of his out-of-print work from the 1960s along with some 1973-74 work. So, a nice collection of his earlier style mixing in with his middle period.
1981 Dangling in the Tournefortia is also very good. Middle period moving toward later period.
1986 You Get so Alone at Times it Just Makes Sense is very good; fewer words, just as much oommph.
1991 The Last Night of the Earth Poems is very good. Later period.
Hell, they're all good, some are just better than others. It really depends on what style of his you might prefer.